“This is something that I learned from my time at Nourished Life. The ERP system, and the warehouse and logistics systems are the most important part of a business, but they’re the parts that nobody sees,” Falcone told Inside Retail.
“I’ve put an incredible amount of effort into making sure my systems and processes are the best you can get, and that they’re user friendly [so] that when someone buys a franchise all of the systems are ready to go.”
Potential franchisees will receive a point of sale system, access to the business’ newly revamped branding, and Falcone’s PR and marketing experience.
Plus, they’ll get access to one of, if not the, biggest selling point of the business: the country’s biggest range of non-alcoholic beverages, including Sans Drinks’ own products.
The dream of making her own products is one of the reasons that Falcone sold Nourished Life to manufacturing and consumer goods company BWX in 2017: a decision that, in the end, Falcone said she “deeply regrets”.
“What I found was that the more and more entrepreneurs work with corporate people, the more they are whittled down and they can’t really fulfil their dreams anymore,” Falcone said.
“That’s nothing against BWX, they’re a great company, it’s just that there’s a disconnect sometimes between entrepreneurs and corporate. And I was born to provide customers with products without toxins in them, whether that be through cosmetics or alcohol.”
A turning point
Falcone left Nourished Life in 2021, and found herself increasing her drinking habits in order to destress through what was a very difficult time.
“I remember thinking to myself, ‘I should cut back a bit’, and went into my local Dan Murphy’s to ask for a non-alcoholic wine and was laughed at,” Falcone said.
“They thought I was crazy, and I recognised that reaction. It was the reaction Priceline gave me 15 years ago when I asked for a natural deodorant [which led to the birth of Nourished Life], and that sparked the idea of Sans Drinks in my mind.”
Falcone is also taking the non-alcoholic drinks business to places she wasn’t able to take Nourished Life, having launched a Sydney-based bricks-and-mortar store in order to interact in person with her customers.
Falcone missed having a direct relationship with her customers after she sold Nourished Life, and said this was something she wanted to focus on with Sans Drinks.
“I always wanted to do more bricks-and-mortar with Nourished Life, we had a store in our warehouse and it did really well, but unfortunately we had to close that when I sold the business,” Falcone said.
“So I thought, if you’re going to be a disruptor you’ve got to be scared and take some risks. What’s the riskiest thing I can do? Open Australia’s first non-alcoholic bottle shop directly across the road from a major liquor store.”
And while she certainly hoped the launch of the store would be a major “upset” to the Liquorland across the road, the reality was that both businesses saw a sales uptick.
Many couples will shop in each store separately, usually with women in Sans Drinks while their other halves head off the Liquorland. Weekdays are also fairly popular at Sans Drinks, while from Thursday onward people tend to gravitate towards an alcoholic offering: or purchase Sans Drinks’ non-alcoholic cocktails to act as mixers.
“And that’s fine. I’m not saying to people that you can’t drink. Australia has a very strong drinking culture, and I just want to give people the ability to switch it out a few nights a week and to drink less,” Falcone said.
A safe haven
For Falcone, Sans Drinks is about more than just tapping into the growing segment of consumers reducing their alcohol intake. Since the business doesn’t offer alcoholic drinks on the same shelf as non-alcoholic ones, it has also become a safe haven for recovering alcoholics.
“The association between somewhere like Dan Murphy’s or BWS is that they’re a liquor store, I know they’re trying to scramble to get the non-alcoholic audience, but at the end of the day people associate them with alcohol,” Falcone said.
“We offer a very different environment and a different energy – we’re almost perceived like a health food store.
“And the amount of people that come into my store and say, ‘I’m on the way home from an [alcoholics] meeting, and I was so tempted to go into Vintage Cellars, and then I looked across the road and saw you, and now I have a non-alcoholic beer. It’s amazing.”